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We didnt know! Honest! Its the military’s fault! (or its to the military’s credit).

The Conservative government’s latest claim about the detainees issue is a whopper; they are claiming both privately and publicly that they had no idea that the transfer of detainees had ceased in November, and it was the Canadian Armed Forces and their commanders that made that decision.

There are 2 scenarios that are possibilities here; neither very good. The first scenario is that the Conservative government is telling 1 big fib to the Canadian people about this. With the control-freak style that Harper and his PMO uses to run things, you can’t help but be sceptical about this claim of being unaware of this major detail. The other scenario is that if this is true, then it was the Canadian military who got scared that they were violating the Geneva Conventions and did all this behind the government’s back, which means the military didn’t buy all the bluster coming out of Ottawa at the time that everything was fine and dandy and no one needed to worry.

To be honest, I’m almost inclined to believe the Conservatives that it wasn’t the government who ordered the transfers to stop, because as myself and others have said, we’ve been puzzled why they would keep this action secret all this time, when it would have garnered them some grudging respect from their political opponents for doing the right thing, and probably defused the issue back in November. With these denials of any knowledge of this, they’re appearing to run from the issue and slough it off onto the military, and by this action, they appear to think the halting of transfers is a BAD thing, and they appear to be trying to disavow any knowledge of this (do they think their hard-core supporters will call them wimps for trying to stay within the terms of the Geneva Convention?)

One of the talking points of some of our Blogging Tory colleagues has been to say that the government should be deserving credit for ending these transfers, rather then being slagged for keeping it a secret. That point is highly debatable, but I would say even that point is completely destroyed if the government had nothing to do with it. Rather, it’s the Canadian military who should be lauded for doing the right thing. As for the Conservative Government, Impolitical has it right when she says they have shown “an absolute abdication of responsibility of their civilian oversight of the military on a fundamental issue. And conduct demonstrating utter contempt for the Canadian public’s right to know that the issue was being handled properly.”

We’re going to be seeing fireworks in the House of Commons in QP on Monday, you can be sure.

You might want to go over to Galloping Beaver and read Dave’s article about why he thinks Sandra Buckler and the Harperites are full of it by trying to shuffle responsibility of this onto the military. As a former military guy, he would know the relationship between the civilian government and the military it purports to be in charge of. I recommend reading his column.

FURTHER [email protected] 11:20am: Even if the Cons. didn’t originally know about the Canadian Armed Forces decision to halt transfers in November, it certainly had found out between then and a couple of days ago, when it delivered its submission to the Federal Court that transfers had halted in November.  If so, they still sat on the information and only released it in trying to get Amnesty and the BCCLA to drop their court case. Does that show they wanted to keep the decision by the Armed Forces hidden so they could try to continue to bash the Opposition as “Taliban lovers”, or that they were embarrassed by this change in plan, which was apparently behind their backs, as they claim? More questions then answers at this point. Bottom line is the Conservatives look deceitful either way.


8 comments to We didnt know! Honest! Its the military’s fault! (or its to the military’s credit).

    (Ottawa Citizen)

    "Earlier yesterday, Brig.-Gen. Joseph Paul Andre Deschamps told court that Canada’s second-in-command in Kandahar decided to suspend detainee transfers Nov. 6, one day after the incident came to light. Col. Christian Juneau took the decision after consulting with Defence Department headquarters in Ottawa because his boss, Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, was away on leave.’

    Brig.-Gen. Deschamps was also not allowed to elaborate in court on the rationale that led to the policy change because Mr. Graham objected on national security grounds."

    So much for the "we didn’t know" excuse. There’s a paper trail.

    Now, the questions are why did they not tell anyone and why did they continue to defend in the House a policy which they’d already discontinued? And, oncve again, what are they doing with prisoners captured since Nov 6? Now that torture has been confirmed, what steps are being taken to determine what happened to all the prisoners previously handed over?

    One of the best reasons for keeping track of the detainees is that the corrupt Afghanis are easily bribed into releasing them. Even those who don’t care about whether the detainees are tortured or not should be concerned about them being released to kill Canadians. Canadian troops have reported just such incidents where they’ve turned over enemies only to see the same guys back out on the street.

     Proper treatment and detention of captured enemy fighters is in our own best interests.


  • Ron

    Our American allies are flagged as torturers by a government report. Our Afghan allies cannot be trusted with prisoners. Why are Canadians fighting with and for war criminals?

  • Well you don’t have to wait with bated breath anymore. The new post is up.

  • quaietur

    I seem to recall an issue last summer over Hillier’s order that records of Afghan detainees wouldn’t be made public because the information would endanger Canadian troops.   It seems to me that this should have been a gov. (civilian) decision, not a military one.

    Also, wasn’t there a dust-up last fall when Hillier stated publicly that it would take 10 years to stabilize Afghanistan after Harper (or one of his henchmen) claimed the job would be done by 2011?  There was some talk at the time about the question of civilian control of the military – i.e., that Hillier was in control, not the gov.  

    There does seem to be a good possibility that the PMO was not informed about the new military policy on detainees.  I wonder if it’s because Hillier would not want to tell Harper anything because he thinks that Harper is a moron who would use sensitive information for political gain (as he’s done so often).  

  • I’ll also add to Cam’s point, Raphael, that I’m waiting with baited breath for the post at your blog telling everyone how the Conservatives are basically now admitting they had nothing to do with this change in policy, which completely destroys yours and other Blogging Tory talking points about how this government deserved credit for doing the right thing.

    In fact, if this is true what they are saying about not having anything to do with it, their reaction suggests they believe the military shouldn’t have stopped the transfers.

  • Raphael…  If the Conservatives were actually responsible for stopping the transfers, then you might be able to say they wern’t complicit. But if what they are saying is true, and the Military decided to do this, the Conservatives get no credit for stopping it. In fact, it could be argued that the Military had to stop the Conservatives from being more complicit, seeing as how it was their policy.
    If the Conservatives did tell the Military to stop the transfers, which they are saying they didn’t, then you could say that they wern’t complicit because they would have actually have tried to stop it. Instead, Harper and the Gang have decided to go in a different path.

  • Your post almost made an entirely cogent point this time, Scott. Just like you almost gave credit to the Conservatives for not actually being complicit in torture.

  • What I find amazing about this is that if the Conservatives are telling the truth and that they didn’t know about this practice being stopped is that it was in fact the Military basically overruled the government out of an obvious fear that the Government’s policy was putting Canada at risk. To me, that has much greater negative consequences for the Conservatives, being as how they have tried to portay themselves as the only party that cares about the Military. Basically, the Military said to the Harper Conservatives "You guys don’t know what you’re doing". Also, in doing this, the Military has basically proven all of the Opposition Parties right and proven their position. Politically for Harper, that’s terrible. It’s no wonder then he’d rather admit to knowing nothing about this than to say that the Military basically proved that he was wrong and the Opposition Parties right.

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